“When secrets become stories” gives voice to GBV survivors

As Women’s Month in South Africa draws to a close, let’s continue to celebrate all of the amazing women around us, their lives and their stories. Now more than ever, it is important that we share the voices and stories that have been silenced for centuries, many of which sadly still are.

While gender-based violence still has a brutal grip on South African women, the courageous survivors and their stories are a critical part of overcoming this societal pandemic.

Collection of stories from brave survivors of GBV

Award-winning editor and author Sue Nyathi has compiled a beautiful collection of essays from various women who have courageously spoken out about their experiences as survivors of gender-based violence. When secrets become stories is a raw, often heart-wrenching, but extremely powerful celebration of women and their courage.

You see, the thing about abuse is that it feeds on silence and thrives in secrecy.

Sue Nyathi – editor of “When Secrets Become Stories”.

“When secrets become stories”: Synopsis

She asked for it.

She should have known better.

It’s because I love you, he said.

It’s not that bad, she told herself.

Sharing their childhood experiences in the boardroom, from the suburbs of Cape Town to the hills of KwaZulu-Natal, women from different walks of life show how frightening male violence against women is. Together, their voices form a deafening chorus.

Gender-based violence feeds on shame and silence, but in this extraordinary collection, courageous women take back their power and summon the courage of others to do the same. By speaking, by sharing what was once secret, the hold of shame is broken.


I come to live with the keen knowledge that as a woman you will be susceptible to abuse by a man and that escaping is a privilege that only a few of us have. enjoy. This femininity carries a burden which we inherit at birth and which we are not relieved until death.

By uncovering shame and exposing it to the world, you are breaking the power it has over you. Only exposed wounds can heal; the hidden ones fester and you rot inside. Anyone who has ever been abused wears a black cloak of shame, heavy and heavy and difficult to shake. However, when thrown away, it brings such release.

For a moment, the temptation to feel victimized somehow on your behalf is darkly alluring. It’s easy to give in to the terrible charms of this feeling, the Achilles heel of anyone with a heart. However, I will not steal your story. So much has already been taken away from you. If I am to make war for you, I need my intelligence. You, dear child, you are neither victim nor survivor. These are not very powerful words. You are a warrior.

This is the subject of this book, owning your story and telling it boldly without shame.

Learn more about the editor

Author and editor Sue Nyathi. Image via Twitter @SueNyathi.

Sukoluhle Nyathi was born in 1978 in the city of Bulawayo. Her love for reading and writing started in elementary school and has fueled her passion for words ever since.

Her writing interests include poetry, for which she has won several awards, but Nyathi says prose will always have her heart.

After graduating from Cambridge A Levels, Nyathi wanted to study journalism, but at that time no such degree was available at any Zimbabwean university. So she found herself studying finance. His degree has earned him a successful career of more than 10 years in finance and investments, and more than 5 years in economic development consulting.

During his years in finance, Nyathi continued to write in his spare time, working as a freelance writer for the Sunday mail. After moving to Johannesburg in 2008, Nyathi focused her energy on publishing her work. His first novel, The polygamist, was published in 2012 and since then Nyathi has published critically acclaimed works such as Gold diggers and A family matter.

When secrets become stories: women speak out is published by Jonathan Ball Publishers and is available from Exclusive Books for R272.

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